As is usual, for the day after one of our shows, the weather mocked us with fine sunshine on Sunday morning. Breakfast was last night’s leftovers and it was all jolly tasty…BBQ chicken is unusual at 9AM though. This was followed by a leisurely packing of camping gear before I was the 1st to leave at about 11.30 with everything squeezed back into Poppy and the roof down.
I spent a fabulous afternoon cruising the countryside. Gladys the sat nav did confuse herself somewhat by directing me onto some new roads which left her thinking I was driving across ploughed fields. 20 minutes of huffing, puffing, recalculating and very un-lady like language followed from Gladys until we were back on familiar territory for her and normal service was resumed. 4 hours after leaving the campsite and a weekend total of 382 trouble free miles completed, Poppy came to rest… on the hard shoulder of the M4 motorway ½ a mile from my home junction and 2 miles from home. You see, I needed 384 trouble free miles so I might have said some very bad words.
It looked like Poppy had finally left me stranded at the side of the road for the 1st time in our 15 years together. I was a little confused as she was ticking over but nothing happened when the pedal was pushed. However, I was at the side of a very busy motorway and I really didn’t fancy ending up as road kill while trying to ponder the problem so I called the RAC.
I’ve been a member for years and am paying my monthly membership on time every month so imagine my horror when the 1st time I call them, the girl on the end of the phone said “No… You’re not a member…it ran out last Friday.” I know this isn’t true as my renewal date is March and I pointed this out and requested that she check again. She said she would and came back to say that “the computer says no…” or something like that. When she said that she could still send someone out but I will be charged £110, the conversation deteriorated somewhat and I might have told her what she could do with that suggestion.
My next action could be considered almost as dangerous as working on the side of a motorway by those familiar with my tales. I called Mrs FB for assistance. “But I’ve never towed a car on a rope before!” came her reply. “It’ll be fine” I reassure her. “Oh OK! But I’ve used all the diesel in your car while you’ve been away so I’ll have to do a splash and dash on the way.” “OK” I say. “ See you in a bit”.
Whilst I was waiting, I decided to lay up and connect the tow rope. Now, rather optimistically, Triumph only fitted a towing eye to the back of the chassis so other vehicles could be towed and not at the front, so this car could be towed. It was while I was looking for something to attach the rope to that I noticed the throttle cable anchor plate was floating in the breeze and just hanging off the end of the cable.
Now, after a 4 hour run this bracket gets really, really hot so, on no account must you grab hold of it as you will get a rather nasty burn. So whilst I waited for it to cool for a while I tried to find where it had come from whilst making sure I didn’t wander into the path of the juggernauts whizzing past just inches away from me. No joy on this front though but I did manage to jam the end of the plate under the manifold enough for me to limp off the motorway and the remaining mile and a half home.
Any relief I felt at arriving home safely was immediately stripped from me though as I suddenly realised I hadn’t let Mrs FB know that I wasn’t stuck on the motorway anymore. A feeling of horror, far worse than any from the “Norfolk Beast” swept over me as I frantically reached for my phone. While I was misdialling in my panic, Mrs FB pulled up behind me as she’d seen me pull off the motorway. In an effort to distract her temper, I jumped out of the car, said a cheery “hello” and immediately started unpacking Poppy and putting everything straight away in its proper place rather than just dumping it all in the hall.
Mrs FB still had a face like thunder when I had finished. So even before I’d had a cup of tea, I offered to address the tyre pressure alarm in her Mini which was the reason she was using my CRV. Mrs FB agreed and followed Poppy and me as we limped up to the lock up, before going on to the local petrol station in the Mini.
I jumped out removed the cap on the NSF wheel and offered up the airline to the valve. At which point, the valve disintegrated in an explosive blast of compressed air as all the remaining air in the tyre instantly fell out. I may have said some more bad words as I was stranded again. BMW Minis do not come with spare wheels and puncture repair gunk wasn’t going to hack it on a disintegrated valve.
We were now 3 cars down. Poppy was out with broken throttle, The “splash” in the CRV had been dashed and now the Mini was sans air in one tyre. This just left our daughter and her plucky little Daewoo Kalos to come to the rescue and take Mrs FB home while I waited for Mini Assist.
On the plus side, due to the incompetence of the RAC, I can still say that Poppy has never left me completely stranded at the side of the road in our 15 years together.
Despite all this, I had a fantastic weekend and would like to say a massive thank you to Keith Lloyd for setting this local meet up. Of course I also want to thank all those who attended. Once again you are all jolly good eggs and fine people. I would particularly like to thank fellow campers Keith, Alison Layla And Gwen Lloyd, Phil, Lorraine and Lucas Allin and Gar Cole for turning a great day into an epic weekend. Particularly particular thanks To Phil Allin for his extensive cooking marathons. Top Chap! Gus Brooks has a rival!
Well done all. See you next time.
By Mike Peake
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